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Using technology to commit family violence

Information about the use of technology to commit family violence, warning signs that this may be happening and what to do to stay safe.

Increasingly, perpetrators of family violence are using technology to track, intimidate and harass an affected family member as a key part of committing family violence. This behaviour is called technology facilitated abuse. These behaviours may include:

  • sending abusive emails or texts
  • using tracking systems to monitor a person's movements (such as through a mobile phone)
  • making threatening phone calls
  • using fake media accounts to harass someone
  • using social media sites to abuse or shame or threaten a person
  • sharing (or threatening to share) intimate images of a person without their consent (often called revenge porn)
  • using technology to control or manipulate appliances, locks or other connected devices
  • taking over a person's online accounts.

Warning signs to look out for

Hints that a person or their children may be at risk of technology abuse include if their partner or their ex-partner seems to know:

  • what someone has been doing online when they normally would not have access to this information
  • where and when a person is going to be somewhere, for example by showing up unexpectedly
  • about private conversations, messages or emails.

or if they:

  • constantly check a person's social media activity
  • have access to the person's phone, computer,
  • ask for passwords or pin codes to phone or computer
  • send frequent, unwanted texts or messages or makes abusive, or silent calls
  • post defamatory comments, spreads malicious rumours, or things designed to humiliate the affected family member (AFM) on social media
  • contact family or friends to check up, or to ask what person is doing
  • send texts demanding to know what the person is doing, where they are going or who they are seeing
  • control access to bank accounts or finances
  • has set up a new security camera that seems unnecessary.

Strange or unusual things to notice

An indication that an ex or partner is using technology to stalk or harass a person could include:

  • passwords that stop working
  • restrictions to any online accounts
  • being gifted a computer or new phone, or getting an offer to fix a phone or computer
  • kids getting new electronic gifts, particularly if the child is pressured to bring them during care
  • getting abusive emails, messages or texts either anonymously, or from strangers
  • finding a fake social media account in the afm's name
  • computer or phone suddenly running more slowly
  • unknown financial transactions on online accounts
  • sudden changes in appliances (lights going off unexpectedly, air conditioning, fridge, tv, intenet etc)
  • strange things happening with emails (being deleted, marked as unread, or being read).

How to protect online security

The eSafety Commissioner recommends that a person can take the following steps to manage their online activities and stay safe by:

  • using strong passwords to secure their devices and online accounts
  • turning off location services on phone and computers and not checking in via social media accounts
  • getting a separate account, if one is shared with an ex partner (may need to restore factory settings and start again)
  • avoid posting anything online that will identify location
  • blocking any abusive or unidentified people on social media
  • checking to see which programs are loaded on phones, computers and other devices
  • taking care not to open unidentified attachments in emails or clicking on links in messages

See 'What are the warning signs?' in eSafety Commissioner—Domestic and family violence(opens in a new window).

More information

Reference

eSafety Commissioner

The commissioner's site has detailed information about how to recognise when someone may be stalked, harrassed or abused using technology. It also explains what someone can do to stay safe.

See eSafety Commissioner—Domestic and family violence(opens in a new window).

Updated